30 May 2009

Tagliatelle Con Ragu Alla Bolognese

I'll start with my customary shot of the chef I'm gonna impersonate, which today is Mario Batali (here showing off his worrying love of pork):

I saw this video of him making Ragu Bolognese on youtube:

and I've been hassling my butcher for veal mince ever since. The don't sell veal mince front of shop but I had been told by the boss that whilst supplying veal to restaurants around Manchester they sometimes made mince from the trimmings around the weekend. However since then it's been one no after another. But going in the other day for a few sausages, there it was out front. All I needed was 3/4 pound but I dived in and got a kilo, most of which is still sitting in the freezer. So I set upon it, first sweating mirepoix in olive oil and butter:

Next came pork mince, beef mince, and, of course, veal mince:

This was the key moment. On the video Mario says to keep cooking this on a low heat till all the fat is rendered and the meat is browning in a crackling pan. I did render all the fat on the meat but it wasn't browning and crackling quite like the video. I'm pretty sure the mince I had was just too lean. Some of the mirepoix were trying to stick to the bottom and burn so I cut a loose end on it to prevent ruining the ragu and put in the tomato paste:

This was slowly simmered for another 40 minutes of so till there was one big gooey tomato and meat mess. Then I threw in a cup of milk to deglaze the bits off the bottom of the casserole and start to form a kind of sauce:

This was reduced down to nothing, then deglazed again with a cup of white wine, and reduced down again. Lid on, I left it on a really low heat for 1 hour, arriving at the final ragu:

To finish I put together some homemade spinach tagliatelle:

Boiled the pasta, and sauteed it with some ragu:

And served with a touch of parmesan:

Final shot is a little weak I'm afraid, again my stomach was ruling my head, but to be honest it isn't much of a looker of a dish anyway. The ragu was really nice, loads of depth. I especially like the creaminess the milk gives it. It probably would've been better if I could've achieved the scorched mince effect Mario did, next time I'll make sure to get fattier meat. Nevertheless, the real star was the pasta. It's the first time I've made spinach pasta, and it gave the dish a real feel of lightness to counteract the heavy sauce. In fact, I wish I hadn't combined it with so much ragu - it really was nice pasta. Even better, it only took around 50 minutes to make (factoring in 30 minutes resting time for the dough). I'll definitely do it again, especially seeing as it only took 2 eggs, compared to richer pastas I've made in the past using anywhere up to 7 (6 yolks and a whole egg). The recipe is in Leith's Cookery Bible if anyone is interested. 

The fallout from the dish was that I have been lamenting since that there are so few places that serve really good fresh pasta. Don't get me wrong, I love good dried pasta too, but on a special occasion the fresh stuff really makes an impact. I suppose I should get some perspective, there are certainly bigger absences in the UK restaurant scene than quality pasta, but that's for another day...

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is amazing. Having read the post about the pig's trotter and this one, I sense that we have somewhat similar obsession with cooking and everything that goes with it. Looking at the gear that you have you are a serious nut. I have been thinking of writing a blog one day and I guess if I had done it it would have been something very similar to your stuff with also similar number of posts and then abandoned.
    This ragu has become kind of like my signature dish. I like it very much. I have changed it a bit and I have never put veal meat in it. As an extra I put some smoked (or not) bacon. I also don't get the dark color you can see on Marco's video, it gets rather brown, just like the color of a nice browned steak. Maybe if you put some lamb mince you might get more fat, but this will give it may be too much of an oriental lamb flavor, but i consider to try it some day. To accelerate the browning process I put part of the meat in a stainless steel pan next to the big pot and brown it there. Then I put the browned meat in the pot again. Also I put a small can of cherry tomatoes at the end before the 4 hours or so simmering, I know this might be a bit of a sacrilege, but Marco does it similarly. I also put some fancy spices like star anise, bay leaf and sometimes cloves, but only that, no basil or thyme or oregano and of course you can omit this. Also some cocoa powder or crushed cocoa beans for richness. I don't know if this really adds up to the flavor as I add couple of spoons to the whole big pot (30 cm le creuset) but I do it anyway. I don't know if you will ever see this comment now 6 years later and would take it seriously but it was a pleasure to go through your blog and I will take time to read the other stuff. I will never take on a dish like the pig's trotter though, seems way too complicated in the techniques. Cheers!